Footballers vote to strike

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Football players voted overwhelmingly in favour strike action in a dispute over their share of television revenues.

In a secret ballot, for which there was a turn-out of 92 per cent, 99 per cent backed strike action, which would start not before 23 November.

The players would only refuse to play at grounds where matches were being televised.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said 2,290 players voted in favour of a strike, with only 22 against.

"We're extremely pleased to say the least at such unprecedented support to pursue industrial action in order to secure a fair share of television income," he said.

The dispute centres on the amount of money the PFA receives from the Premier League for player education and welfare, which is mostly used for lower division players.

The PFA wants five per cent – or £25 million a year – of the league's television income. The Premier League has offered £10m.

Mr Taylor said the league has asked to resume negotiations Monday, but the Premier League is expected to apply for a High Court injunction to stop any strike.

The league claims a strike would be illegal because players' contracts are held by clubs and not the leagues.

Several leading Premier League players have backed calls for a walkout in solidarity with lower–paid players in the lower divisions.

The first game affected by a strike could be the Arsenal v Manchester United match – one of the highest–profile of the season – at Highbury on 25 November.

England coach Sven–Goran Eriksson said a strike would be damaging for the sport: "If you can't resolve problems by discussions it's always very bad. English football would not gain by it."